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May 29, 2012
Rivals100: Smith leads six new five-stars
The Rivals100 has been released for the first time since February and after months of in-person evaluation as well as film review, many changes have occurred. The five-stars get the most attention, of course, and there are six new additions led by Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Luers linebacker Jaylon Smith.
"We feel very good about this new release and much more comfortable with our evaluations after so much additional research and traveling the country to see as many prospects in-person as possible," said Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell.
Leading the way, as always, are the new five-stars.
"The five-star brand has become synonymous with Rivals.com," Farrell said. "We are more selective than anyone else when it comes to naming five-stars and we take that very seriously. These new additions are prospects we feel very strongly about and have what we are looking for when we evaluate for that elite status."
Smith debuts at No. 4 overall and is joined as a new five-star by Vienna (Ga.) Dooly County defensive tackle Montravius Adams, Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington linebacker Matthew Thomas, Richmond (Va.) Hermitage running back Derrick Green, Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton defensive end Carl Lawson and Muscle Shoals (Ala.) defensive end Dee Liner.
"Smith dominated several offseason camps on a level we have not seen in the Midwest for years. His length and athleticism at 6 foot 3 and 218 pounds is unreal," said Rivals.com Midwest analyst Josh Helmholdt. "Not only does he own the middle of the field from his linebacker position, but we saw him drop down to defensive end and destroy offensive tackles in pass rush scenarios as well as bounce out to a cornerback role and lock down some of the region's top wide receivers in man coverage. The kid is just a freakish specimen at the linebacker position."
Adams, the nation's top defensive tackle, checks in at No. 10 overall and impressed Rivals.comSoutheast analyst Keith Niebuhr.
"When we compared our notes from a December in-person evaluation with new film, it became pretty obvious that Montravius was deserving of a fifth star," Niebuhr said. "He's an enormous kid with good feet, quick moves and tremendous strength. The thing that stands out on film is how he simply overpowers the opposition. It isn't uncommon for him to get them to the ground with one, massive shove."
While Thomas, who is now the No. 11 player in the county, is different than Smith in many ways, he also impressed enough to earn that fifth star.
"Thomas' move to five-star status was a no-brainer, plain and simple. He is an incredibly athletic, aggressive outside linebacker who does a fantastic job of covering a ton of ground whether it is attacking in the backfield or dropping back and playing the pass," said Rivals.com Southeast analyst Chris Nee. "Thomas is a player that both in-person and on film makes a plethora of plays and shows the ability to dominate games from a defensive standpoint."
Green, who moves up to the nation's No. 1 running back slot and debuts as a five-star at No. 12, just made it too hard on Rivals.com to keep him outside that range.
"Green looks physically like a college junior," Farrell said. "If you put him in any college uniform right now and told someone who had never seen him that he was a 1,500-yard rusher, they wouldn't blink an eye. Plus he's shown the ability to block and catch passes now, so he's gone from a two-down back to an every-down guy. He's the most physically impressive running back we've seen in awhile."
Rounding out the new five-stars is a couple of Auburn commitments in Lawson and Liner. Each jumped to their lofty status with different games.
"Lawson has many great attributes, from his strength to his passion for the game and competitive nature. But what really stuck with us is how fast he plays the game. Everything he does is at full speed, and full speed for Carl is one to two steps better than most," Niebuhr said. "His explosiveness off the ball is uncanny -- and he redirects in a flash with an extreme amount of force. He's a ball of energy that is difficult to contain."
Nee had similar praise for Liner.
"Liner is a wrecking ball off the edge," he said. "He dominated at the Alabama Rivals.com/VTO event and showed that he is an unstoppable force at times off the edge. He has the thick build that would allow him to slide inside and handle duties as a defensive tackle but his athleticism, quick first step, active hands and shoulder dip make him a difficult matchup for any offensive tackle when he is coming off the edge."
While the five-stars get most of the attention, there were many other players who made huge jumps into the Rivals100 from different regions. Checking in at No. 23, Baton Rouge (La.) University Lab defensive end Tim Williams made a huge jump of 121 spots.
"Williams might be the best pure pass rusher in this class," said Rivals.com Southwest analyst Brian Perroni. "He has good size but he also has an incredibly quick first step that makes it tough for offensive linemen to stop. He is a guy I could see making a very early impact at the next level."
Making an identical jump of 121 slots is defensive back Tahaan Goodman from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
"Goodman's junior film is outstanding. He's a headhunter who loves to separate the ball from the player and he has a lot of power when he does it," said Rivals.com West analyst Adam Gorney. "Goodman is super athletic and after seeing him multiple times this spring there's no question he's one of the best safeties in the country. Goodman is fast, strong and is one of the best athletes in this class."
Two prospects from Virginia are next in line when it comes to making big jumps, both within the Rivals100. Ashburn (Va.) Stone Bridge defensive end Jonathan Allen (No. 35) and Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside running back Taquan Mizzell (No. 43) each jumped into the top 50 for different reasons.
"For Allen, it was simply getting more film," Farrell said. "We knew his highlight film was ridiculous but we didn't want to overreact on that. Having seen him in-person last summer, we knew size was a question but when we watched game film he not only consistently blew up plays in the backfield but he also held the edge. As for Mizzell, he has arguably the best feet in this class at running back and he is a competitor who can be dangerous between the tackles as well as to the outside and in the passing game."
Following the Virginia duo are three players who didn't even crack the Rivals250 our first time around. Two of them hail from Texas as linebackers Mike Mitchell from Plano Prestonwood Christian Academy and Deoundrei Davis (Texas commitment) both shot up the charts and landed at No. 45 and No. 46, respectively. Perroni breaks down both of them.
"Mitchell was somewhat of an unknown heading into this spring but he has shown out in a big way," he said. "He was one of the best overall performers at the Dallas Nike camp and really showed that, despite his size, he is very good in coverage. He can play either inside or outside effectively with his tremendous combination of size and athleticism.
"Davis' film came in a little late or he would have been ranked much higher last time. He is the size of a linebacker but plays more like a safety. He is a big hitter and his film is some of the most fun to watch of anybody in the class."
Wyomissing (Pa.) Wyomissing Area linebacker Alex Anzalone is the third in this tight grouping, debuting at No. 49 from outside the Rivals250.
"Anzalone was awesome on film and he was pretty good at the U.S. Army Combine, but when we broke down more film and watched him at the Baltimore NIKE camp, we were sold," Farrell said. "He's a big kid who can really move and it's easy to see why he blew up so quickly."
The fourth player from outside the Rivals250 to crack the Rivals100 this time around was Torrodney Prevot from Houston (Texas) Alief Taylor, who checks in at No. 74.
"Prevot is eerily reminiscent of Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller coming out of high school," Perroni said. "He is long and lean, and could play either end or linebacker. He has an incredibly quick first step that makes him a very effective pass rusher. He has plenty of room to fill out as well and be a very, very good all-around player."
A few other players made large jumps including St. Petersburg (Fla.) Catholic running back Ryan Green, Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde wide receiver Demorea Stringfellow, Bealton (Va.) Liberty defensive end Wyatt Teller, Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) cornerback Chris Hawkins, Everett (Mass.) offensive lineman John Montelus, Nashville (Tenn.) Brentwood Academy cornerback Jalen Ramsey, Bastrop (Texas) cornerback Antwuan Davis and Colleyville (Texas) Heritage quarterback Cody Thomas.
Green jumped 40 slots to No. 50 overall and has impressed Nee quite a bit.
"Green saw a significant bump as he continues to progress and develop at the running back position. Green is a home run-threat back who is capable of putting points on the board every single time he touches it," he said. "He shows the vision to follow his blocks and burst through the hole and when he gets into the second level, he has the ability to shake defenders and quickly separate down the field."'
Stringfellow (No. 62) and Hawkins (No. 78 and a USC commitment) are both skill positions from Gorney's region.
"Stringfellow first impressed me a couple seasons ago during a game and since that time he has gotten bigger and stronger," Gorney said. "He had an outstanding showing at the Los Angeles NIKE camp and has proven to be a tough matchup because of his size and speed combination.
"Hawkins is physical when he needs to be, athletic and he rarely gets beaten in one-on-one coverage. He has outstanding instincts and plays with an attitude where he's not going to get beaten by anybody. Hawkins is competitive and tough, and wants to prove he's the best player on the field at every event."
Perroni breaks down the two Texans in this next group, Davis (No. 93) and Thomas (No. 96), who will be going at it as a future Longhorn and Sooner, respectively.
"We ranked Davis fairly high the first go-round despite the fact that he missed much of last season with a back injury," Perroni said. "He is back to full strength now and looks even better than he did prior to the injury. He is one of the fastest players in the country and isn't tiny, two things that usually go together with cornerbacks.
"Thomas was once thought to be headed to Major League Baseball but he has made it known this spring that it will be very tough to pull him away from college football. That has brought a lot more attention to him and it made him a much hotter prospect prior to his commitment to Oklahoma. He is big with a strong arm and good touch and could remind Sooner fans of current quarterback Landry Jones.
Finally, Niebuhr breaks down Ramsey (No. 90) and Farrell talks about Teller (No. 75) and Montelus (No. 79 and a Notre Dame commitment).
"Jalen is a high priority for a lot of major programs, and it's easy to see why. For starters, we're talking about a complete all-around athlete," he said. "A track star who won four golds at the Tennessee state meet, Jalen can run, jump and change direction with the best defensive backs in this class. He also has excellent size, not to mention long arms. He has an added value because he really could play just about any position in the secondary."
"Teller is just a big, old country boy who is strong as an ox and reminds me a bit of Chris Long when he was in high school," Farrell said. "He's not as athletic as Long was, but he's big and physical and he can dominate with a quick get-off and a great rip move. He also has a motor that runs all day long. As for Montelus, we didn't see him on the camp scene, but further film breakdown showed how he's a tackle in high school that plays like a guard and can get downfield. His versatility was very impressive."
The Rivals250 will be released Wednesday.